A total of 21 Theileria parva stocks from 6 countries were characterized using T. parva repetitive and ribosomal DNA probes, a Plasmodium berghei telomeric oligonucleotide and a panel of anti-schizont monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Hybridization of the repetitive DNA probe to Southern blots of EcoRI-digested T. parva DNA revealed 20 different restriction fragment patterns among DNA samples isolated from infections initiated using 16 parasite stocks. The panel of anti-schizont MAbs defined 8 different profiles among schizont-infected lymphoblastoid cell-cultures infected with the same 16 T. parva stocks. Many stocks, which were differentiated by the repetitive DNA probe, could not be distinguished using the anti-schizont MAbs. A cloned T. parva small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSUrRNA) gene probe separated 17 T. parva stocks into 2 groups, exhibiting either 1 or 2 restriction fragments, when hybridized to EcoRI-digested T. parva DNA. When hybridized to PvuII-digested DNA from 8 T. parva stocks, the ribosomal probe identified 4 groups with similar restriction fragment patterns. A synthetic oligonucleotide derived from a P. berghei telomeric sequence hybridized to 7 or 8 size-polymorphic restriction fragments in the EcoRI-digested DNA of most T. parva stocks. The telomeric and ribosomal probes defined the same 4 groups among 8 T. parva stocks as assessed by similarities in restriction fragment patterns. Based on the comparison of repetitive DNA sequences from the T. parva Uganda and Muguga stocks, a synthetic oligonucleotide was developed which distinguished the DNA of the T. parva Uganda stock from that of 4 other T. parva stocks on a positive/negative basis.